MINNEAPOLIS — The father of a woman who was injured Sunday during a confrontation with police near Dakota Access oil pipeline said Tuesday she may lose her arm.
Wayne Wilansky said during a press conference outside a Minneapolis hospital that his 21-year-old daughter Sophia was wounded in a concussion grenade blast that “blew the bone out of her arm.”
Police have denied using concussion grenades amid the protests. Concussion grenades are non-lethal devices that produce a blinding flash of light and loud sound.
Sophia Wilansky is facing dozens of surgeries over several months, but there’s little guarantee her arm can be saved, her father said.
“I told her that I did a little bit of an interview with a few reporters, and she said please go and tell them it’s not about me, it’s about the indigenous peoples,” Wayne Wilansky said. “Even though she’s lying there with her arm just about blown off, she’s not doing this for herself.”
Wayne Wilansky said his daughter traveled to North Dakota from New York City, where she lives, three weeks ago, and had planned to stay through the winter.
The clash occurred late Sunday as protesters trying to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway were turned back by authorities using tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses. The Standing Rock Sioux and others oppose the 1,200-mile, four-state pipeline being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois because they say it threatens drinking water on their nearby reservation and cultural sites. Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners has said no sites have been disturbed and that the $3.8 billion pipeline will be safe.
At a separate press conference in North Dakota on Tuesday, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said officers did not use any devices capable of damaging an arm that bad. Kirchmeier said officers reported that there was an explosion in the area, but said they only used pepper spray and water hoses.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department suggested to the Los Angeles Times that Sophia Wilansky may have been injured by protesters “rigging up their own explosives,” though no one was arrested or charged with making or deploying explosives.
Wayne Wilansky criticized the allegation that protesters used explosives during the press conference Tuesday.
“That’s ridiculous, the doctors removed shrapnel from her arm,” Wayne Wilansky said. “There is evidence that our own government is throwing explosives at the protesters.”
Wayne Wilansky did not indicate whether his daughter would pursue specific legal action against North Dakota officials, but did say the “shrapnel” had been saved as evidence.